The following account from Mark’s Gospel, chapter 5, was the basis for the message at church today.
[Jesus and his disciples] went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.
2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him.
3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain.
4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him.
5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.
7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”
8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”
10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.
12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”
13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.
15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man-and told about the pigs as well.
17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.
19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. (NIV)
This man was invaded by evil spirit—a Legion–, so powerful that not even chains could contain him. He lived among the tombs and would cry out and cut himself with stones. He had a miserable existence, overpowered by the evil forces that lived inside of him.
Then came Jesus!
When Jesus comes and we let him do his work in our lives, nothing is the same again. Imagine the relief for this man when Jesus commanded the evil spirits to leave. It must have been awesome for him when the chains broke, when the oppression left, when he could think clear thoughts and carry on a conversation; when he could dress and be normal again.
When it was time for Jesus and his disciples to move on, the man who had been demon-possessed begged Jesus to let him to go with them. “No,” said Jesus, “go home and tell how much the Lord has done for you.”
Chains! So many things in our lives can be chains that bind us and weight us down. Jesus wants to free us from all chains. He said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36).
Our preacher, who illustrated with chains around his neck, urged us to let Jesus free us of whatever chains were weighing us down, holding us prisoners. Yes! If you are burdened by chains, look to Jesus to set you free. The great, most important thing in life is to keep our eyes on Jesus!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses
[the men and women of faith of old], let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him
endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down
at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1,2).